Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Chasing the Boogeyman

Richard Chizmar is a horror and suspense novelist who was plucked out of near-obscurity to collaborate with Stephen King on a couple of well-received co-authored novels. His 2022 “hunting a serial killer” book, Chasing the Boogeyman, is a clever bit of meta-fiction taking place in 1988.

The concept behind this novel is fairly audacious and unique, so pay attention or you’ll be lost from page one. First, the book is fiction - like Silence of the Lambs or any of the thousand serial killer mystery-thrillers you’ve read. Second, the book is written as if it’s a true crime paperback. Same style, formatting and pacing. The curve ball is that the main character is horror author Richard Chizmar telling the story of the killer terrorizing his home town in Maryland. This is where it gets meta. Yes, Chizmar is a fictional character in his own novel.

All of this works rather well as Chizmar takes the reader back to Edgewood, Maryland in 1988. A gruesome murder of a teenage girl snatched away from her bedroom at night has everybody terrified. And then it happens again. And again. The police are getting nowhere, and the media dubs the serial killer, The Boogeyman.

22 year-old Chizmar and his female reporter friend at the local newspaper take it upon themselves to undertake their own parallel investigation as the police seem to be chasing their tails. The progress they make creates both a bond and excuse for resentment from the local police, who don’t always take kindly to the meddling of amateur sleuths.

The solution to the mystery was straightforward and very satisfying in its execution. Chizmar has recently published a sequel called Becoming the Boogeyman that you should avoid like the plague until you fully absorb the solution to this one.

Chasing the Boogeyman is a fantastic addition to the serial killer mystery genre and is definitely worth your time. The genre has been beaten to death over the last 40 years, but somehow Chizmar’s gimmick breathes new life into the setup. Recommended. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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